Indigenous Groups Stand Up to Big Oil

In a real-life David and Goliath story, 400 indigenous people of the Kichwa tribe in Ecuador are standing up to the government and Big Oil, literally putting their lives on the line to protect the rainforest that has been their home for generations.

In an article by the Guardian's Latin American correspondent Jonathan Watts, Kichwa shaman Patricio Jipa is quoted as saying, "If there is a physical fight, it is certain to end tragically. We may die fighting to defend the rainforest. We would prefer passive resistance, but this may not be possible. We will not start conflict, but we will block them and then what happens will happen."

This resistance is the latest step in a long process of fighting companies itching to get rich off the spoils of the most biodiverse place on Earth, at the expense of pristine land and animals  crucial to the health of the planet. This land, bordering Yasuni National Park, is home to vital ecosystems, rich cultural traditions and indigenous communities that had no say in the legal decision that now allows oil companies to rip up their homeland.

Preceding the Guardian article is a short video in which environmental activist Vandana Shiva calls for an end to the "fossilized mindset" that is holding most immediately the Kichwa, but certainly people all over the globe,  hostage. The price of oil is too high, she says.

Amazon Watch, an Overbrook Foundation grantee, works on indigenous rights, empowering indigenous communities and protecting the Amazon from the prospects of fossil fuel companies. Visit their web site and read about their activist work here.